Until hoteliers, tour operators and cruise ships wise up and start taking advantage of the growing market of solo travellers, there are a few ways you can avoid or at least reduce the single supplement.
Image by Adopt a negociator on flickr
Don’t be afraid to contact the hotel or cruise company direct and negotiate a price that you’re happier with. It may be that the person you’re dealing with doesn’t feel comfortable offering a lower price, but by going over their head you stand a better chance of finding someone who does. And you’ve got a long list of reasons why you deserve a lower price right here in this article. If the answer’s still no, be prepared to walk away, like Møïrå Jønes on Facebook:
“It's like paying for wifi in some hotels. In this day and age, I refuse to do that, so I stay elsewhere (waves to the Hilton hotels). So yes, I do pay more for single usage, sometimes that amount is acceptable and I really want it, other times I walk away from the trip, tour, hotel, etc. I make a mental note not to work with such people again too ;-) Vote with your $, € or CHF.”
2. Travel off peak
Your negotiating argument will have more sway if you’re travelling in the shoulder season. Prices are already lower then, but the weather can still be good so you won’t miss out. In fact, the only things you’ll miss are the crowds and sky-high prices. Hotels usually have a very clear idea of when they will be full and when they’ll have rooms to fill and a room with one person in it is still more profitable for them than an empty room.
3. Find a specialist singles travel tour operator
While comments on the Thelma & Louise Club website and Facebook page warn that some solo travel operators aren’t all that much cheaper, it’s unfair to tar them all with the same brush. I’ve not checked these out fully, but a few recommendations for single travel tour operators that boast no single supplement include Friendship Travel and Just You, while Cruise Critic can help point you in the right direction for the best single-friendly cruises.
Turpicalponkling, via the Thelma & Louise Club website, recommends Riviera Travel:
“I have recently learned [Riviera Travel] have just introduced a new "Going Solo" programme especially for solos (not singles). No supplement here and prices don't seem too bad so I may give it a go. I like their ethos of ‘you can be as sociable or independent as you want to be, it's totally up to you.’”
4. Watch out for last-minute singles holiday deals
If you still find the costs for solo holidays from specialist singles tour operators too high, and you’re fairly flexible with when you can travel, keep an eye open for last-minute offers. Set up a Google alert for solo travel offers, sign up for newsletters from your favourite singles travel tour operators, and keep searching. Solitair usually has some up for grabs.
5. Find someone to travel with
This is where the Thelma & Louise Club comes in really handy! Some operators and cruise companies offer a room-mate matching service but there’s nothing like choosing your own travel buddy. The Thelma & Louise Club has over 25,000 active members – women travellers like you who are looking for someone to travel with. Cost is a factor, but it’s more about finding someone to share the experience with. Register, find a travel buddy or join one of the other trips currently being planned. It’s a good idea to arrange a meet-up before heading off on a longer trip together too.
6. Branch out from your usual travel habits
Forget hotels. There are plenty of other options if you’re willing to try something different. Couchsurfing, homestays and housesitting are all great ways to find cheap accommodation and meet the locals. Aztek vouches for Airbnb:
“Luckily while travelling this summer I wasn't faced with solo premiums. I stayed in Airbnb places that charge single fees and more for additional persons.”
One of our members, Joannay, is one of these forward-thinking Airbnb hosts who waive single supplements:
“As a single traveler most of the time, I've recently taken a step toward doing for others what I appreciate myself by lowering the cost of my Airbnb listing for single guests in a room that accommodates 2. Interestingly, I've begun to get more & longer bookings from single women which means I'm making more travel money by charging singles less! I'm hoping it'll become a trend and I'll benefit both at home & on the road.”
7. Try a different type of holiday
Certain types of trip attract solo travellers, so suddenly those travelling alone are the norm – and properly catered for. Safaris, overland and special-interest trips tend to have a higher proportion of solos so start there. Adventure holidays are another route to skipping the single supplement. Many adventure tour agencies are geared towards solo travellers, so start thinking about walking, cycling or sailing holidays, where everyone piles in together, single or not.
8. Look for other discounts
If you can, forget the principle of the matter and focus on the money. While it might be tricky to get a tour operator to drop the single supplement altogether, there may be other things they can offer to take the edge off. For example, last-minute booking discounts, free meals or two weeks for the price of one. It’s not going to get you much kudos on the picket line, but your bank manager might appreciate it!